Tag Archives: poverty

Why Not Give, Instead of Buy, on Black Friday?

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I have received email after email about the great deals I can get for Black Friday.  Many of these fabulous deals started at 8pm Thursday, THANKSGIVING DAY!!!  Seriously?  Is nothing sacred?  Are we supposed to move our Thanksgiving meals earlier in the day so we can rush out with the hoards of people to trample each other for the one $39 Blu Ray player?

It’s bad enough that soon Christmas decorations will make their appearance on store shelves right after Labor Day.  Can’t one holiday, the one holiday where we are supposed to count our blessings by the way, remain untouched by consumerism?

My family and I went on a Thanksgiving walk yesterday at 1pm.   There were people already in line outside of a Best Buy store that wasn’t opening until midnight.  I couldn’t believe it.  Their entire Thanksgiving was going to be spent in line at a store, instead of with family or friends.   Perhaps these folks don’t have family or friends you say….I answer with, is it any wonder when their priorities are so whacked?  If they were alone on Thanksgiving, these people could have volunteered at a food pantry or soup kitchen.  They could have spent the day holding babies at a hospital or playing games with wards of the state who are relegated to group homes.

The same is true for today, Black Friday.  Why is it so important to get more and more crap?  Maybe we could change Black Friday from a day of buying to a day of giving.  We could change the name to Fabulous Friday and instead of spending 24 hours shopping like turkeys with their heads cut off, we could spend the day helping others.  Now that would be a Freaky Friday indeed.

 

Another 3 bags donated! Yahoo!

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Last week was an insane week at Publix.  Check out my receipt:

 

Yup, you saw that correctly.  I bought $81 in groceries for $9.  Most of what I purchased were items to donate.  Publix even paid me $.80/bottle to purchase body lotion.  You’ve got to love that.  I bought vitamins, chocolate chips and some body lotion for my house.  Without coupons  those items alone would have cost me well over $9  so everything I donated was essentially a bonus.

Because of the stellar week last week, I was able to donate 3 more grocery bags of food.  Normally, I would have waited until I had collected more bags but I had stuffing and mashed potatoes so I wanted to make sure those items made it to the food bank before Thanksgiving.  Yesterday Jack and I brought boxes of stuffing, boxes of mashed potatoes, cough drops, cookie mix, body lotion, cans of Campbells Soup and more (but I sadly can’t remember what as I am getting old) to the Lawrenceville Food Co-Op. It was another feel good moment for both Jack and me and we are looking forward to collecting more items to donate again soon.

If you coupon, I really recommend grabbing a few great deals weekly to donate.  You’ll feel great!  I promise!

What Do Food Banks Need?

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I did a very unscientific survey online of items that Food Banks need.  Here is what I came up with.  Interestingly, you can extreme coupon to get many of these items.

Baby items – such as formula, baby food, diapers
Baking Supplies – flour, sugar, oil, vanilla, seasonings, etc
Beans, canned & dried
Cake mix & frosting
Canned Fruit
Canned meals such as chili, soup, pasta, Pork & Beans
Canned meats such as chicken, tuna
Canned Tomatoes
Canned Vegetables
Cereal, Cold & Hot
Condiments – ketchup, mayo, mustard
Coffee and tea (including iced tea mix)
100% Fruit Juice
Jelly
Kid friendly convenience foods, like granola bars, individual apple sauces,fruit snacks
Macaroni & cheese
Pasta
Pasta Sauce
Peanut Butter
Powdered milk
Processed cheese spread
Rice
Salad dressings
Saltine Crackers
Vegetable oil

Remember, people can’t buy non-food items with food stamps, so even if they are also getting food stamp assistance, items such as the following will come in handy:

Cleaning Products
Feminine products
Laundry soap
Razors and shaving cream
Shampoo
Soap
Toothpaste
Toilet paper

There was one other common theme on the websites.  As we near the holidays, many people will be donating to food pantries.  Many pantries then run out of items by summer. Couponing for good entails the constant picking up of those few extra items each week while at the store….allowing us to give year round and not just as we near the holidays….just one more reason to coupon for good!

What items have you found to donate this week?

Peace Out Coupon Scout.

Kate

This Week’s Haul

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2 boxes of muffin mix ($.36/each)

6 jars of baby foor ($.06/each) (I think my husband panicked when he saw the baby food jars…hee, hee)

3 toothpaste (FREE)

Not a huge haul but every little but adds up, right?

I just received an email from Care 2 Action emphasizing how many charities will be overwhelmed with requests for help as the holidays approach.  Food Banks in particular will be hard hit.

What can you do right now to help?  I know what I’m doing.  I am going to keep on couponing for good.  If I can pick up 10 items each week, that will be close to 100 items by Christmas…see every little bit helps!

If you have any ideas of other simple, easy ways to help others, let me know.  If we all do just a little we really can make the world a better place.

Peace Out Coupon Scout,

Kate

 

 

 

SNAP Budget- FAIL

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I haven’t posted for the past few days.  I am embarrassed.  You see, I failed on a SNAP budget.  I truly thought I could do it.  Not only did I think I could do it, I thought it would be fairly easy. HA!  I laugh at myself.

Three days into it and I tossed in the towel.  While it’s true that weekly I don’t usually spend more than $150-$175 at the grocery store, every 4-6 weeks I stock up on things at COSTCO.  Moreover, we eat out once or twice a week -never anything fancy, pizza or sub sandwiches, but not meals that I count in my grocery budget. It makes a difference.  We were not off by lots of money but we were off by enough.  It got complicated and frustrating and I quit.  I am feeling very fortunate that I could just quit.

This experiment not only made it clear to me how hard it is to be on food stamps, it also made me realize how important food banks that can supplement SNAP are and why couponing for good is in fact, a good idea.

For more information on SMAP and protecting it, go here:

http://www.strength.org/blog/snap/stories

I did not find any great couponing freebies this past week but am hoping there will be some good ones in the ads tomorrow.  I’ll keep you posted.  Remember, the food banks need us!

Peace Out Coupon Scout!

Kate

 

Oh SNAP! Day 3!

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Day 3 we spent a total of $24.08 on food. We actually did it.  We were under our $24.85/day budget.  However it meant Jeff skipped breakfast, we ate leftovers and we did not have enough dinner for all of us.

Here’s how Day 3 broke down…

Breakfast – The shorties (CJ & Kylie had french toast sticks again…..you would thing they’d be sick of that by now)   Jeff didn’t eat breakfast today, Quinn had a peanut butter sandwich instead of a smoothie and I had a bowl of cereal– $3.85

No morning snack  again today so that also saved us a bit – seems like that has to go if we have any hope of staying on track.

Lunch: $.20

As it turns out Jack didn’t finish the box of pasta yesterday…he did today for lunch  – which was great for the budget- $0

Jeff had leftovers from dinner, also good for the budget. $0

I had $.20 can a of chili- $.20

Afterschool snack – $5.50

Jack and CJ had cereal, $1.50 ( 1 bowl of cereal each with milk – box of cereal $1.99, gallon of milk $2.19)

CJ  also had Special K crackers – $2.00

Quinn is on a field trip for school for the next two days and not here but we’ll act as if she is and add $2 for her after school snack.  Just to keep us honest.

Dinner – $11.28

CJ had a baseball game and I didn’t want to blow a bunch of cash at the concessions.   I decided to bring dinner to the park.  Jack helped me make the chicken nuggets and burned himself  which led to him dropping the tray full of nuggets.  We lost 1/2 of the bag.  Based on our budget for the week this is almost a tragedy.  We made the rest of the bag which was enough for Jack, Jeff and Kylie.  CJ was playing baseball so he didn’t get any and I sacrificed my chicken nuggets for the good of my family. – $3.99 for the bag

I also brought chips – $1.79 for the bag, a bag of apples but only Jeff and I ate apples – $1.00 and 4 packs of fruit snacks for the kids ($1.00), ketchup ($.50), water (I filled up bottles so that was free) and 3 diet cokes ($3.00)

Here’s a pic of our gourmet dinner:

Cj had a yogurt when he got home and he was given a Gatorade and chips at the game. $2.50.  And I made up for my chicken nuggets sacrifice with a bowl of cereal $.75.

We now have only $73. 71 left for the 4 days left in the week.  At this point it is clear that we are not going to make the entire week within our budget.  I have realized that I stock up on enough things that I don’t have to spend over $175 each week because at least once a month I do spend more.  That stocking up shopping trip allows me to spend less than $175 the other weeks …what these few days have taught me is that if I didn’t have the ability to stock up monthly, I’d be screwed.

Oh SNAP!

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Have you heard of the SNAP Challenge?  I just learned about it and starting today, my family and I will attempt it.  SNAP is the fancy name for the food stamp program.  It stands for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.  The SNAP Challenge is a way to see what it is like for the millions of low-income folks that are on food stamps.  The idea is that for one week, my family will live on the same food budget that a SNAP recipient does.  We will learn firsthand about what it is like to try to get by on the average SNAP benefit.  I will need to budget carefully and keep in mind that if I run out of money by Friday, we will just have to go hungry until the next Monday morning.  Obviously, we will not truly understand the daily difficulties that SNAP recipients face.  But this challenge will give us a little but of insight.

I found the guidelines for the SNAP challenge on the Chicago Food Depository website –

Challenge Guidelines

  1. Each person should spend a set amount for food and beverages during the Challenge week. That amount is $35/week or $5/day for all food and beverage. (I have seen this amount online as low as $29/week)
  2. All food purchased and eaten during the Challenge week, including fast food and dining out, must be included in the total spending.
  3. During the Challenge, only eat food that you purchase for the project. Do not eat food that you already own – this does not include spices and condiments.
  4. Avoid accepting free food from friends, family, or at work, including at receptions, briefings, or other events where food is served.
  5. Keep track of receipts on food spending and take note of your experiences throughout the week.
  6. Invite others to join you, including co-workers, reporters, chefs, or other elected officials.
  7. Share your SNAP Challenge story. Post updates on Facebook and Twitter and tag them with #SNAPchallenge.

I learned that there are some things you can’t buy with your SNAP allotment.  Off limits are paper products, medicine, alcohol, cigarettes, energy drinks, magazines or hot, prepared food.  You can buy meat, produce, canned items, baby food, cereal, milk and microwaveable meals.

Since there are 6 of us in my family, my weekly allotment would be $174.  I used the $29/week amount since I live in Georgia and I am assuming since the cost of living is less here than in Chicago, the SNAP allotment will be less too.  As of this writing, the amount does not seem too bad to me particularly now that I am a coupon fiend.  I usually spend about $150 – $200/week on groceries.  It just depends on the week.

However, I have the freedom that many people don’t have. If I need to spend more in a week for whatever reason, I do, without even thinking about it.  And that is the difference.  I do have weeks where I spend much more.  Maybe we are having a party, or I’m just really hungry.  Who knows why?  The thing is that I can.

Except, this week, I won’t.  This week, I am committed to not going 1 penny over the $174.  This week, I am going to get a sense of what it means to truly be on a restricted food budget and I am going to see how hard it is to feed my family healthily.  And since I can’t use all of the things I have stocked up on by couponing, this may be a bit more difficult than I imagine.

Wanna join me in this challenge?